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Top 10 Tips for your Prenuptial Agreement

View profile for Simon Leach
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The excitement over planning a wedding can take over the whole family, but prudent brides, grooms and their families should not overlook the financial implications of their future nuptials.

Making a prenuptial agreement before you get married can take away some of the financial worry about what will happen to your assets and property if your marriage does not work out.

Simon Leach, Family Law Solicitor at Family Law Group in Nottingham, gives you his top 10 tips for what to include in your prenuptial agreement:

1. Property ownership

As a married couple any property or land you own, even if it is in one person’s sole name, can be redistributed by the Court in the financial settlement of a divorce.  By making a prenuptial agreement you can agree whether you will each be entitled to keep your own property and how any jointly owned property, such as your home or a holiday property, will be treated on divorce or separation.

2. Business

Making a prenuptial agreement will give you the opportunity to discuss whether to ring fence your business, which is especially important if you have acquired it through family succession.  If you are going to give your spouse an interest in the business you can set out how shares will be divided.

3. Pensions

Your pension pot can reflect your future security and your retirement plans.  If you are marrying later in life, or for a second time, you may not be willing to risk losing a substantial portion of your pension through pension sharing in a divorce settlement.

4. Family heirlooms

Inherited wealth and treasured family heirlooms are often a very sensitive issue on divorce, especially if they are likely to fall into the hands of your spouse.  You can take steps to prevent this by including express provisions in your prenuptial agreement.

5. Personal possessions

You may have each acquired numerous personal possessions before you got married that you may want to keep hold of if you split up.  Added to this, there may be expensive wedding presents and jointly owned purchases during the course of the marriage.  With a little thought from the outset you can save a lot of acrimony, and lawyers’ fees, by agreeing how these assets should be divided if the marriage does not last.

6. Savings, debts and bills

Your prenuptial agreement should include your respective entitlement to cash savings, policies and investments and responsibility for jointly accrued debts. You can even specify your arrangements for paying the household bills, whether they are to be shared equally or one of you is to pay them all.

7. Spousal maintenance

Where there is an inequality in income between you, it may be appropriate to decide whether any maintenance will be paid to your spouse if the marriage breaks down.

8. Death

You may want to decide and record in your prenuptial agreement your intentions for what you would like to happen if one of you dies.  Will the other person be entitled to continue to live in the house?  What should happen to your business interests, assets and personal possessions?

9. Children from previous relationships

If either of you already has a child from a previous relationship, your prenuptial agreement will need to include them and make reasonable financial provisions for them too in the event of a divorce.

10. Review

You will need to decide what events, if any, will affect the validity of your prenuptial agreement and if it should be revised.  This may be the birth of a child, illness, redundancy or simply a lapse in time.

Negotiating your prenuptial agreement

Engaging the skills of a trained Collaborative Lawyer can be a particularly effective way of negotiating the terms of your prenuptial agreement.  Your chosen Collaborative Lawyer will help you to address the key issues and focus on achieving an agreed outcome.  You should both have access to independent legal advice to ensure that you fully understand the terms of the agreement before signing.